Missing My Second Monitor
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with family in Florida over the holidays. Unfortunately, I had to do a little work while I was down there. Sitting at my mother’s dining room table trying to meet a deadline brought back memories of trying to finish term papers on the old electric typewriter. (Yes, I am that old!) As archaic as that seems, I actually felt like I was in the Dark Ages last week because I was working on my laptop without the benefit of my second monitor.
About five years ago, Desiree and I treated ourselves to second monitors, which seemed like an indulgence at the time. But I can tell you, once you go to two monitors, you’ll NEVER want to go back to one. I would imagine this is true for most professionals, but I think it is especially true for e-learning professionals. Let’s look at an example.
When I am making edits to a course, here’s what I typically have open at once:
- Document with changes from the client, perhaps an email, an Excel spreadsheet, an online list, etc.
- Authoring files, such as Lectora, Articulate, or Captivate files
- Photoshop and/or Power Point to make image edits
- WavePad to make audio edits
- Word to refer to or make changes to the storyboard
In addition, I might have source documents, clarifying emails, list of questions to go back to the client, Outlook, and other windows open. I can easily have 6 to 8 windows open and actively being used.
On a single monitor, there is a lot more switching between windows, which is not just time consuming, it’s confusing. In trying to find the window you want, you can forget what you are trying to do. (Yes, I am that old!) In addition, I believe it increases your cognitive load. Because you can’t see everything you need at once, you have to juggle more in your working memory. But with two monitors, I can position the four windows I need the most to be visible at the same time, making it much easier to move back and forth making changes and updates.
If you already have a second monitor, then I’m probably preaching to the choir. If you don’t, then go get one!! Now!! You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Now if you need to convince your boss to pay for one, check out these studies citing the increased productivity from using a second monitor. (Although shouldn’t my word be good enough?)